RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard’s Voice in Wall Street Journal

I’m happy to report that a recent letter to the editor that I wrote was published in the Wall Street Journal.  Since it was passed, Congress took some positive steps in this regard, and I wanted to share this with local readers (and riders) who may have missed it.

Stop Fiddling, and Upgrade the Infrastructure

It is time for Congress to pass long-term, sustainable transportation funding for America’s economic vitality and national security.

Dear Editor:

It is time for Congress to pass long-term, sustainable transportation funding for America’s economic vitality and national security. Band-Aid funding impedes long-term financial planning and cost savings (“As U.S. Infrastructure Creaks, Congress Dithers,” U.S. News, Oct. 6). The U.S. Highway Trust Fund regularly runs near a depleted level. Congress set the gas tax in 1993 at 18.4 cents per gallon, and it has never been adjusted. If adjusted for inflation, it would be about 30 cents today. Thirty years ago, gasoline prices were $2.62 per gallon, adjusted for inflation; today’s average price is less than that.

Infrastructure improvements lead to private-sector development and attract the next generation of workers who expect public-transportation systems. Studies show that every dollar invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns. When the Chicago Transit Authority upgraded its iconic Brown Line “L” train, median home values grew over 40%, and since 2010, 15% of all new Chicago construction building permits have been issued near Brown Line stations.

One of the reasons Chicago has led the U.S. in corporate relocations the past two years is our reliable mass-transit system, which provides two million rides each workday. Last year, commuter-rail provider Metra had its second highest year for ridership, CTA “L” ridership reached an all-time high, and Pace’s suburban bus services have grown more than sixfold since 2011.

Kirk W. Dillard
Chairman, Regional Transportation Authority

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